Alan Hutton has warned Liverpool that it will become starkly apparent just how much the club misses Gini Wijnaldum in midfield this coming season, if they fail to replace the 30-year-old.
The Reds’ recruitment team is thought to be working on identifying and securing a potential replacement for the Dutch international, who departed on a free at the start of the window following the side’s failure to extend his terms.
“These are the players that you miss and you don’t realise you miss them until they’re not there. Wijnaldum fits that bill,” the former Aston Villa star told Football Insider.
“He’s the captain of the Netherlands, he does the same job for them. He pops up with important goals, he works hard, he’s a technically gifted player.
“He allows the other players to go and flourish and do their things. Whether it be the front three or attacking full-backs, when he covers back in and closes down space.
“Wijnaldum does all the stuff that a lot of people maybe don’t notice. But trust me, when that player’s gone, you will notice he’s not there.”
Being the only midfield option last term who was fully available to Jurgen Klopp throughout an entire campaign while the side’s remaining midfielders spent varying amounts of time on the sidelines, finding an appropriate signing to fill his boots will be critical.
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A considerable proportion of transfer speculation has been devoted to the topic of our former No.5’s potential successor – understandably so, given our reliance on him in the 2020/21 campaign.
The reality remains, despite Naby Keita and Harvey Elliott’s promising outings in pre-season, that a more direct replacement is absolutely essential.
Tactically speaking, the Dutchman’s role was pivotal in allowing his partners in midfield to flourish, whilst also possessing a level of durability that was somewhat underappreciated by certain sections of the fanbase.
With that in mind, we shouldn’t be quick to assume that a few impressive pre-season performances from our backup midfield options will be enough to eradicate the need to replace Wijnaldum.
It’s encouraging that we have more options than we thought available to Klopp but after the injuries piled up last term we really can’t afford to take any chances going into the next.
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#Ep5 of The Red Nets Podcast: Has Wijnaldum’s replacement been sitting under our noses? How do Liverpool keep up amidst City’s spending spree?